Before delving into this subject matter, let's first define what is and/or makes for a 2D barcode provider, and an exceptional one at that. Search for a provider on Google and typically you will get results for companies that offer one to three basic services and/or capabilities: code generation, code management and code tracking/reporting. Some of these services/capabilities might be free, while others have an expense associated with them. While these might be the most common services/capabilities provided, they really don't describe or include some of the more important services/capabilities that a company or its agency might need in order to produce and implement an effective and efficient 2D barcode-based strategy or campaign. In addition to the three basic services mentioned above, companies/agencies should also consider whether or not a provider or platform can offer strategic marketing advice, creative ideation and production, mobile website development, mobile device detection and content optimization services, as well. While often overlooked, these additional services/capabilities are really the ones that will make or break a strategy or campaign, especially if the company does not have these resources in-house or at their disposal.
Searching the 2D barcode provider landscape, there are very few companies, whether they be a major player or boutique, which offers the very basic, as well as the additional services/capabilities outlined above, but they are out there.
With a better understanding of what a 2D barcode provider could or should be able to offer, now let's focus on the process of selecting one. To begin, a company's marketing and/or creative team needs to look inward and ask questions of itself and then of the provider. Listed below, in no particular order, are the types of questions which should be asked:
- What is our overall budget, what can we afford?
- How or on what is provider pricing determined (i.e., codes generated, scan rates, report delivery, etc.)?
- How does the provider bill for products and services (i.e., hourly, project, retainer)?
- What in-house capabilities, resources, manpower do we have?
- Does our agency have the necessary capabilities, resources or manpower? If so, at what cost?
- Will creative ideation and production services be needed and does the provider offer such services?
- Will website (desktop or mobile) development be needed and does the provider offer such services?
- Will content management and optimization be needed and does the provider offer such services?
- Will mobile device detection and optimization be needed and does the provider offer such services?
- What 2D barcode format to use, open source (e.g., QR Code) or proprietary (Microsoft TAG), and what does the provider offer?
- Will technology support be needed and does the provider offer such services?
- What will be the duration, frequency and reach of the 2D-based campaign?
- What are the goals and objectives of the 2D campaign?
- Does the provider have the ability to test the code and to what extent?
- Does the provider assist with code/advertisement print production?
- Does the provider offer strategic marketing advice?
- Does the provider offer competitive analysis?
- Does the provider offer code tracking, reports and analysis?
- Does the provider offer code management?
- Does the provider offer dynamic codes versus static codes?
- Does the provider offer a code reader app or the white labeling of an app?
- Can the provider work virtually or just in-person?